More than 200 people across Herts responded to a week-long free HIV test campaign by a county-based sexual health charity.
HertsAid revealed the turnout for its ‘finger prick’ testing service in GP surgeries, community centres, clinics and pharmacies across the county in line with National HIV Testing Week from November 22 to 30, and World AIDS Day on December 1.
HertsAid director Suzanne Bannister said: “National HIV Testing Week was fantastic for us, both in terms of raising awareness of HIV and encouraging people to test and know their status in a variety of community venues.
“Thousands of people are living with HIV in the UK but don’t know and it’s vital we identify them, so they can get the treatment they need to stay well.
“The week may be over, but we offer free, confidential testing all year round. If you think you might have been at risk, get in touch.
“If you do have HIV, it’s much better to know and we’ll be there to provide any support you might need after diagnosis.”
The painless test can give initial results in just five minutes.
According to HertsAid, last year there were approximately 1,036 people aged 15 to 59 with diagnosed HIV in Herts alone.
In Dacorum, 107 people are accessing HIV-related care, which reflects a 1.21 prevalance of HIV for every 1,000 people in the borough.
But more than half of people newly diagnosed in Herts between 2011 and 2013 were diagnosed late, meaning the virus is already affecting their immune system and they are more likely to have serious health complications.
Hemel Hempstead man John Pynaert – who now volunteers with the charity after being diagnosed HIV positive around 18 months ago – spoke out about the condition and the importance of testing. Click here to read more about his story.
Anyone who would still like to be tested can do so by calling Herts Aid on 01920 484 784 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.